Ode to the Cedar Plug

Last year at the Seattle Boat Show I found myself (as usual) drawn to the Outdoor Emporium booth to see what deals were to be had for fishing gear. Thinking ahead to the inevitable tuna fishing we would be doing, I purchased some tuna gear (much to the mild dismay of my loving and immensely tolerant husband who thinks I have too much fishing gear). Among these items was a cedar plug. It looks like a bit of driftwood with a bit of lead and big hook. Noj was decidedly unimpressed and a bit skeptical.

The lowly cedar plug looks like nothing you'd want to bite on, even if you were a fish. The first time we set the tuna lines was offshore on our trip from Neah Bay, WA to San Francisco, CA. I was adamant that we head offshore “until the water turns blue”, at which time I agreed that we could adjust to a more southerly course. We put the cedar plug out in the brilliant blue water and caught a beautiful big-eye tuna. We put out a rapala on another line, and later a pretty squid. Both looked fabulously appetizing. But nothing bit them. When the cedar plug went in we caught another big-eye tuna. Midnight sashimi, tuna tacos, tuna tom ka... we had all of the tasty tuna snacks. And a very happy crew.

In San Francisco I found a tackle shop and convinced Noj that we needed a backup cedar plug. Just in case. (He was definitely a bit more on board this time.) When I inquired about the cedar plugs, the fellow in the shop scoffed and assured me that no one uses THOSE. The fish don't like them. He pointed me toward some pretty shiny things. Now, I like pretty shiny things as much as the next fisherwoman, but I was on a mission. I let him know that I knew for certain that at least two big beautiful tunas liked them. (I sure told that guy!) Later, just a short distance south in Half Moon Bay, I saw a tackle shop and continued my quest. Sure enough, when queried, the clerk turned and pointed to a lovely array of cedar plugs. Most were elaborately painted. I opted for the unadorned version.

On a later trip, a particularly stormy day, we put out the trusty cedar plug and caught a nice bonito. Some people don't think this is the tastiest fish. Au contraire! We were thrilled to be eating tuna again. My dear love was not particularly excited about doing the gutting bit in big rolling seas, but was well pleased with the poke I made for him later. He was inspired to make ceviche. He makes the very best ceviche.

The next day I thought, hmmm... we have two cedar plugs. It seems silly to put only one of them in the water. We were sailing along and I noticed the line on my side do a quick bob... then bam! Fish on! Excited, I pulled it in. It was another bonito. Oh happy day! We decided it was time to wind up the lines, so I started with the one that was already out of the water. I had nearly finished when I looked across the cockpit to the other line. Just then, sproing! Fish on! Haha! Big love for the cedar plug! So there we were with a boat full of tuna. We made big batches of poke and ceviche, along with tuna tacos, grilled tuna, and tuna tom ka. We showed up at a yacht club potluck with a massive platter of poke. Turns out this is a good way to make friends. :)

We are currently in San Diego, and Noj came home from a recon mission yesterday and let me know that he passed by a couple of tackle shops. You know, in case I wanted to pick up another cedar plug for a backup (I love this man.) Today we went to get our Mexico fishing licenses. And of course, a couple more cedar plugs. Thank you, oh beloved cedar plug! Watch out, pescados!


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